Two young chicken portraits

Cockerel and Pullet, each 9×12 in. on panel, acrylic, © 2017 Cindy Schnackel

Finished two chicken portraits this week! They’re on my Current Inventory Page

Did a few finishing touches to some other pieces. Sorted through a stack of little drawings to see which I might put in tiny frames and which might go in the collage drawer. Next, will tackle cleaning and organizing because things are creeping outwards again and it gets hard to work. Once my space is all neat again, I’ll get back to a large political themed piece, at least for a few minutes a day. It is hard to find that sweet spot where the ‘joy’ of painting overlaps with the feelings of horror about our current administration. Then, (or maybe instead of!), some more thrift store makeovers. Also wanting to draw more again and eyeing a birch panel we got at a lumber yard, to maybe gesso and do some large scale drawing or mixed media on. I dunno. So many ideas, there is a log jam. Usually, cleaning the studio helps un-jam things.

Studio table overflowing with doodles and works near completion earlier in April 2017. © Cindy Schnackel

Inktense colored pencil (sepia?) and wet brush. © Cindy Schnackel 2017

It’s getting to be in the 90s every day now, a bit hot IMO to paint outdoors, but I’ll watch for occasional breaks and do some more plein air so I don’t get out of practice before fall. Maybe just go sketch the nearby canal as water can be a challenging subject. Even though the canal isn’t very pretty, I’ll be happy to represent it fairly accurately, or put some weird spin on it, either one.

For April I’m seeing quite a few of other people’s shows. I hit several galleries on First Friday and will see a few more yet before the end of the month. Other than the miniatures in the gift shop at {9} The Gallery I have plans to show with a women’s painting group at The Artery (Studio 6) again this summer and then in November. Details TBA when I know more! Things are a bit slower here in summer, and I try not to commit to too much that would require riding the city bus in the heat. Summer is a good time to stay in the air conditioning and work on new miniatures!

Painting and Gardening in 100+ degree weather

Work in Progress, for a show at Olney Gallery in September. 

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Large panel painting in progress

I finally committed to the idea I had for this large panel, but by the time I did, it was well over 100 every day. This past weekend it was around 114! Normally I don’t paint outside unless it’s under 90 because the paint just dries too fast and I wilt in extreme heat anyway. But, this needed to be done by late August and there’s almost no chance it’ll be good outdoor painting weather again before Oct.

So, when it “cooled off” to 106 today, I was out there spattering, glazing, dripping and slinging paint. I had a water spray bottle in one hand, which helped keep the paint wet long enough to get the runny effects. The paint dries instantly in this heat. The panel itself heated up so it was a little like painting on a frying pan. Artists who use oils and spray paints seem to take advantage of that. For acrylics it can be a real drawback but one just has to work with it, or wait for better days!

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Cooled off to 106 today, ran outside to paint before it passes.

I LOVE spattering and dripping. We did a lot of it painting theater sets and other large scale things. It was like being given permission to make a big mess, plus the effects are fun. Because it’s all so random and you have to work fast, it’s a great loosening-up exercise. Happy accidents happen, and give rise to more ideas.

This painting will almost certainly have birds in it, but you never know what life of its own it’ll take on. Tomorrow morning I’ll be out there again. We’ll see where it goes.

Flowers that survived the 114 degree weekend

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Hollyhocks

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Red sunflower, about 6 ft tall, the back is mostly yellow but the fronts are red!

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Dwarf zinnia mix

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Sweet potato flower

Technically, the sweet potato flower did not really survive the 114 degree weekend, because it seemed to have stopped flowering just before that. I moved it to the shade because the plant looked like it was struggling in even morning sun right now.

This is an actual sweet potato, not the ornamental kinds you buy for the foliage.

I had bought some sweet potatoes at the grocery store, forgot to cook them, and they started to sprout leaves right in the paper bag they came in. I continued to ignore them and they got to be a nice houseplant, LOL, but I was concerned they would die if I didn’t get them in soil soon. This was in winter here, maybe Jan or Feb. So I took it outside and put the bag and all into a pot and dumped potting soil into it and watered it good. It continued to grow into a lush plant, only getting a little damage from frost.

When it got hot this spring, it began to flower! Being related to morning glories, the flower resembles them. I can’t seem to capture the full beauty of the bloom, but they’re mostly white with a lavender and purple tone as it goes deeper inside. Luminous is how I’d describe them. They’re not quite as big of a flower as morning glories and they tend to hide under the foliage.

I’m told this is really rare for them to flower and that I should try to save any seed it makes. So far I can’t even locate a seed head. It may be that the heat, or lack of pollinators, prevented pollination and it may not even have seed as a result. If it does make seed, info I read said they’re rather rare and valuable to gardeners because that’s the only way to get genetic diversity in them. Most of them are propagated by roots because of how difficult it is to get seed. I wonder if the fact it was in such a crowded pot made it flower. Sometimes ‘stress’ makes a plant flower, and go to seed. High heat is one of the things that can do that with some plants you don’t generally want to go to seed, too, like lettuce. Some herbs and greens are “slow bolt” varieties that give you a little longer time to cut greens before they bolt and die. In all my reading up on the sweet potato I don’t recall if the vine is perennial. Seems like it would be; guess we’ll find out!